Rodriguez wins AJGA event

Shrewsbury High standout rallies

Though they looked chummy in May, caddie Steve Williams (left) said he had been feeling out of touch with Tiger Woods. Though they looked chummy in May, caddie Steve Williams (left) said he had been feeling out of touch with Tiger Woods. (File/San Greenwood/Getty Images)
By Michael Whitmer
Globe Staff / July 22, 2011

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Nick Rodriguez of Shrewsbury had nine players in front of him and faced a six-stroke deficit with only 18 holes remaining yesterday at the Deutsche Bank Partners for Charity Junior Shoot-Out at Plymouth Country Club. But after shooting a 1-under-par 68 on a windy day - one of just three under-par scores in the final round - Rodriguez earned a two-stroke win at the American Junior Golf Association tournament. He even survived a triple-bogey 7 on the 18th hole.

“It feels good,’’ said Rodriguez, who will be a junior at Shrewsbury High School and was competing in just his fourth AJGA event. “I’ve played in some of these and seen others win, so I’m extremely happy that it was my turn.’’

Ben Balter of Wayland shot 75 and tied for second. Patrick O’Leary, a senior-to-be at BC High School who took a one-stroke lead into the final round, birdied No. 1 but ended up shooting 80. He tied for seventh.

Samantha Marks, a 17-year-old from Maitland, Fla., also earned her first AJGA win, holding on for a four-stroke, wire-to-wire victory after closing with 79. Mary Mulcahy of Scituate had the day’s best score in the girls’ division, 74, to jump from a tie for 13th into eighth.

“The course was playing tough. I won and I’m happy,’’ said Marks, who has given the University of North Carolina a verbal commitment. “I know I didn’t play my best, but I deserve it.’’

US Girls’ Junior Amateur - Megan Khang of Rockland and Isabel Southard of Sharon, the lone Massachusetts players who advanced to match play, lost in the second round yesterday morning at Olympia Fields Golf Club near Chicago. Khang birdied Nos. 17 and 18 to force extra holes, but fell to Anne Cheng of Torrance, Calif., in 21 holes. Amy Lee of Brea, Calif., eliminated Southard, 4 and 3.

US Boys’ Junior Amateur - Chelso Barrett of Keene, N.H., used a birdie on No. 17 to defeat defending champion Jim Liu, 1 up, in the second round of match play in Bremerton, Wash. Barrett then eliminated William Zalatoris of Plano, Texas, in the round of 16 with a 2 & 1 victory.

Senior British Open - A bogey-free 68 gave Mark Calcavecchia a piece of the lead after the first round in Surrey, England. Calcavecchia is bidding to become the fourth player to win both the British Open and the senior version. He was joined at 4 under by Mark McNulty and Mike Harwood.

David Frost and Albert MacKenzie were a shot behind, with defending champion Bernhard Langer one of seven players who shot 70.

PGA - Kris Blanks built a one-stroke lead after the opening round of the Canadian Open by shooting a 3-under 67 in Vancouver, British Columbia. There was an 11-way tie for second, at 68, including Ernie Els and Canada native Matt McQuillan.

Rickie Fowler, Anthony Kim, and Lucas Glover all shot 69 to finish among another group of nine. Only 21 players were under par.

LPGA - Karen Stupples, Maria Hjorth, and Ahn Shin-ae each shot a 5-under 67 to share the first-round lead at the Evian Masters in France. Stupples made six birdies during a back-nine 30.

European - Swedish amateur Robert Karlsson shot a 5-under 67 to share the lead with Alexander Noren and Jaco Van Zyl after the first round of the Nordea Masters in Stockholm.

A day after the public announcement of his firing, Steve Williams, the longtime caddie and friend of Tiger Woods, said he was “disappointed’’ by the decision.

Williams worked the last three tournaments, including the US Open and British Open, for Adam Scott while Woods skipped the events with a left leg injury.

Williams said he met with Woods after the AT&T National on July 3, and Woods told him they would no longer work together. Williams said they agreed not to say anything until after the British Open, to keep from being a distraction to Scott.

“A player has the right to fire a caddie at any given time,’’ Williams told The Associated Press. “We all know the business. I have no problem being fired. But I’m disappointed in the timing of it.’’

Williams caddied for Woods for 12 years. They also grew close off the course, with their wives forming a friendship.

The relationship began showing signs of strain after Woods crashed his car on Thanksgiving night in 2009, followed by stunning revelations of serial adultery. Williams went months without hearing from Woods.

In recent months, Williams was feeling out of touch during Woods’s rehabilitation. He was not aware that Woods did not plan to compete in the US Open until after arriving from his home in New Zealand.

“Given the circumstances of the past 18 months working through Tiger’s scandal, a new coach and with it a major swing change and Tiger battling through injuries, I am very disappointed to end our very successful partnership at this time,’’ Williams said on his website.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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